Man loses $10K on Aspen Mountain, Skico employees give it back
A skier on Aspen Mountain finished his day of runs Sunday $10,000 poorer, until Aspen Skiing Co. employees returned his money belt to him Tuesday with all of the cash intact.
The skier, who turns 80 in April, spoke on the condition that his name not be used.
“I’m not looking for notoriety,” he said after a morning of skiing at Snowmass. “I just want to say ‘Thank you.’”
If anything, the man, a physician who recently made a part-time move to Snowmass Village, said the recouped money reenforced his decision to spend the upcoming winters in the area.
“I’ve never been anywhere where the people are so nice,” he said. “They say ‘good morning’ to you, and if they see you carrying something, they lend a hand.’”
Skiing on Aspen Mountain, or anywhere, with $10,000 in cash isn’t a suggested practice, but the man said he felt more secure with the money on him than leaving it at his room St. Moritz Lodge, where he was temporarily staying until he moved into a Snowmass condo Monday. The Aspen lodge doesn’t equip its guest rooms with safes, the man said, so he felt better off bringing the money with him.
Why all of that cash in the first place? According to the man, it was intended to be the money he lives on for the next four months. His bank accounts are in Florida, where he maintains a part-time internal-medicine practice, so he brought the cash to the Aspen area.
“I told my son that if that would have happened in Florida, you could have kissed it goodbye,” he said.
On Monday, the skier reported the lost money to Aspen Mountain’s guest services.
Linda Gerdenich, an Aspen Mountain concierge, said nothing had been turned into lost-and-found.
“I said, ‘Can we try ski patrol?,” and they had it,” he said, adding the patrol had the bag secured in a locker.
It turned out ski-instructor Steve Schreiber had found the money-belt somewhere beneath the Ajax Express Lift. Schreiber said he didn’t open the belt or have any idea what was in it.
“I never looked in it, I just picked it up and gave it to a lift-op and told him I found this and he should hold onto it in case someone asks about it,” Schreiber said, noting he also found a brand-new iPhone on the mountain the same day.
“It just seemed to be my day for finding things,” said Schreiber, who also is a backcountry guide and former ski patroller.
The lift-op gave the belt to a ski patroller, who, while taking the lift, inspected the belt’s contents. According to Gerdenich, the woman was overcome with anxiety after seeing all of that cash. But she held on and made sure it was secured in a ski patrol locker.
The skier figured the money belt must have shaken loose, unbeknownst to him, while he was riding up the Ajax Express Lift.
Adding another twist to the saga was the skier has known Schreiber for years, and he said they had a chat Sunday on the mountain — before he lost the cash.
“People have all of these negative things to say,” he said. “But there are many kind people — everybody I’ve dealt with here.”
When he was learning to ski at the age of 63 in Aspen, the man got to know Schreiber later. He said he wants to find a way to reward all of those involved — Schreiber, Gerdenich and others.
The doctor said staying in Aspen is way to act and feel young. He currently guides senior ski tours and has been an Aspen Highlands ambassador in the past. He still coaches youth sports in Florida, and played tennis, baseball, basketball and ran track when he was younger. He emphasizes a healthy lifestyle — lay off the smokes and reduce the sugar intake — and help others however and whenever you can.
“I feel like a different human being here,” he said. “The four months I’m here is refreshing, and I go back refreshed to my practice.”
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Pitkin County residents are coming out in droves to apply for financial assistance through a local relief fund. Almost 60 percent of the 800-plus applicants are Aspen residents.